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Books in Brief: A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor

I love this book. The trilogy chronicles the adventures of the author walking from England to Istanbul starting in 1934. This represents his travels up to Hungary. It’s a time capsule of a Europe trying to understand the consequences of the Great War and weary of the rumblings in Germany. There’s not really a narrative, which is kind of the point. It’s more of a suite of adolescent impressions of humanity as filtered through the author looking back at them, someone who has been through the worst humanity has to offer, but only after the events described. The memories are limned with a kind of gauzy joy, an innocence he’s trying to recover, and the writing feels like a byproduct of that process. Which is to say the writing is some of the best travel writing in English, if not the best. I read this book at night, right before falling to sleep. Every night it sent me into a beautiful reverie of snowy paths, hearth-warmed inns, and an invigorated faith in strangers.